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Wayback Wednesday: Former NBA Teams & Video Games

Wayback Wednesday: Former NBA Teams & Video Games

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at former NBA teams, and their now-nostalgic appearances in video games.

Something that I’ve explored in several of my Wayback Wednesday features this year is the way that old video games act as interactive almanacs. Yes, it’s fun to revisit old hoops titles simply to remember what the gameplay was like. Certain games hold up quite well, and for some gamers, their simplicity can even make them more appealing than the newer releases. However, as I’ve said on many occasions, there’s something really enjoyable about looking back at a snapshot of the NBA by scrolling through the rosters and seeing now-retired players, as well as familiar faces in strange places.

To that point, I’ve mostly been focusing on the players, but there’s a lot of nostalgia with the teams as well. Not only is it a fun trip down memory lane to see lineups that we’ve forgotten – some of them full of “What Ifs” – but it’s great to see all of the old branding as well. From logos that teams used for years, to short-lived uniforms and the classic jerseys that still rank as our favourites, we can see it all when we dust off old games. With a handful of franchises relocating and/or changing their names over the past couple of decades, we can also see those former NBA teams live on through the virtual hardwood. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Amusing Graphical Glitches

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five amusing graphical glitches found in various basketball games.

Generally speaking, nothing spoils a game quite like glitches. In the worst case scenario, glitches impede progress and render games unwinnable, or perhaps corrupt save data. They can be advantageous to exploit, yet frustrating if you’re not the one benefiting from them. Graphical glitches tend to be ranked much lower on the scale of annoying bugs and gameplay quirks, though they can still detract from the atmosphere in a title that’s aiming for stunning, realistic graphics. If nothing else, they don’t represent a game at its visual best.

Of course, graphical glitches in particular can be very amusing, and few games are immune to them. Basketball games are no exception, and over the years, various hoops titles have included some funny graphical glitches. To the developers’ credit, some of them are only noticeable in instant replay, where it’s possible to advance frame by frame and really scrutinise the animations. Graphical glitches from the early days of basketball gaming are obviously the result of primitive technology, but are nevertheless good for a laugh. With that in mind, here are five graphical glitches from an assortment of games that I hope you’ll also find amusing.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things NBA Jam Doesn’t Get Enough Credit For

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five things that NBA Jam doesn’t get enough credit for.

Following on from my articles about the things that NBA Live and NBA 2K don’t get enough credit for, this week I’m giving NBA Jam the same treatment. As with NBA 2K, that may seem strange as NBA Jam is still held in high regard and remembered quite fondly. When it comes to games from the 90s, NBA Live’s image has easily suffered more, due to its struggles dating back to the mid 2000s. Although there have been some forgettable NBA Jam games (mainly the ones made by Acclaim), the best titles – including the sequels under different names, like NBA Hangtime – are revered.

And yet, there are times when it feels like NBA Jam doesn’t receive the credit that it deserves. I’ve seen gamers say they don’t get what’s so special about it, either because they prefer sim games, or in some cases, that they’re fonder of NBA Street. It’s been nearly ten years since the last NBA Jam game was released, and I imagine there’s a large contingent of the current basketball gaming demographic that didn’t grow up with it as I and other 90s kids did. Whatever the case may be, NBA Jam should be appreciated for its impact on basketball gaming. In particular, I would suggest that NBA Jam unquestionably deserves credit for these five things.

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Monday Tip-Off: Virtual Hooping With Non-Fans

Monday Tip-Off: Virtual Hooping With Non-Fans

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on virtual hooping with and against people who aren’t big fans of basketball.

As our community is obviously made up of people who are big fans of both real and virtual basketball, we don’t really look at hoops gaming from the point of view of people who aren’t into the sport. After all, basketball and sports games in general are – to some extent – aimed at a very specific crowd. Sim titles in particular are intended for the avid fans that are more likely to want a realistic depiction of the sport. That’s not to say they can’t be for everyone – I’m not a fan of gatekeeping – but their focus on authenticity and minute details generally appeals to the more hardcore hoop-heads.

That means despite their success and popularity, basketball games and other sports titles are still somewhat niche. To put it another way, many of us basketball gamers will also play games like Fallout, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Mario, Zelda, Mass Effect, and so on, but a majority of the gamers who play those titles aren’t necessarily interested in virtual hooping, or fans of real basketball for that matter. If anything, they’re more likely to enjoy an arcade title like NBA Jam as it’s easier to pick up and play, and has a broader appeal. Some non-fans will dabble with the sim titles as well though, and virtual hooping with them is often an interesting experience.

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NLSC Podcast #343: The Making of a Classic (Part 2)

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Episode #343 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Part 2 of our latest chat with Josh and Dave from Namo Gamo continues our conversation about the traits of good and bad basketball games, and how they factored into the development of Basketball Classics. We also talk about the one game that we’d want to be stuck on a desert island with, which Donkey Kong Country title is objectively the best, and how to handle custom ratings in basketball video games. There’s also one last tidbit about future features in Basketball Classics, and possibly a few more nods to a certain Simpsons-themed platformer.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

The Friday Five: 5 Nifty Features That Weren’t Advertised

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five nifty features that weren’t advertised, and we had to discover on our own.

Over the years, the preview season has grown shorter and less exciting. I’ll admit that for my part, there’s a certain amount of cynicism that’s inevitable after covering hoops games for so many years. Features and entire games that didn’t live up to the hype do leave one jaded, or at the very least, taking every preview with a grain of salt. On top of that, with only one game guaranteed to come out every year, we’ve lost that back and forth, those attempts at one-upmanship coming out of EA Sports and 2K Sports. Indeed, the preview season has been reduced to a handful of blogs close to launch.

Hopefully, the previews for the Next Gen version of NBA 2K21 will shake things up. It’s the version that’s received the most attention after all, whereas the Current Gen release was outsourced to another studio. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when a few things are left for us to discover. Indeed, even when the preview season felt longer and more exciting, developers wouldn’t go into absolutely every detail about the games. There were always a few nifty things that didn’t make the previews, or the list of features on the back of the box. It’d be nice to discover a few gems in the newly released Current Gen version of NBA 2K21, though; gems such as these nifty features in past games.

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Wayback Wednesday: Another Mistake Unnoticed For Decades

Wayback Wednesday: Another Mistake Unnoticed For Decades

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at another mistake that I’ve somehow managed to overlook for more than two decades now.

I won’t lie. When I realised I’d overlooked a mistake with Kevin Edwards’ portrait in the PC version of NBA Jam Tournament Edition for over twenty years, it blew my mind. You can’t imagine how many times I’ve fired up that game over the years, how many times I’ve cycled through all the teams’ rosters, and yet somehow failed to notice that he has Blue Edwards’ portrait instead. It didn’t click, even though I also own the Super Nintendo version of the game, and do recall Edwards having a different (and correct) portrait in that release.

Well, it happened again! This time, it was our own Eric (aka Q) that pointed out the mistake to me. The error can be found in NBA Hangtime, Midway’s successor to NBA Jam TE. I went back and double-checked just in case it had been fixed in the PAL version that I played, but no, the mistake is definitely there. As with Edwards’ incorrect portrait, it hardly ruins the game, but now that I’ve seen it, I can’t believe I overlooked it for all those years. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 3)

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 3)

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at even more NBA players who became familiar faces in strange places, and those stints in video games.

It’s time to once again look back at the various stints of NBA players that we may have forgotten, or at least don’t think about too often. We expect to see role players bounce around the league, as teams seek out their services to bolster their rosters. Although it’s getting more and more common to see perennial All-Stars changing teams in their prime as well as late in their careers, it’s still often a surprise, and seeing them in their new uniform takes some time to get used to. Funnily enough, photos of them wearing their old jersey eventually seem like the stranger image!

As I’ve noted before, in addition to photos, footage, and records in resources such as Basketball Reference, we’ve got another way of documenting familiar faces in strange places: video games. Fire up an old video game, and you’re bound to see at least a few players on teams you don’t remember them playing for, including some big names who were in the midst of a less memorable stint than one that usually comes to mind. I’ve got another ten examples to share today, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Outdated Details in Basketball Games (Part 2)

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five more outdated details in basketball games.

Developers tend to do a great job of updating basketball video games for the season they’re set in. As I noted in my previous Friday Five covering this topic, they have the benefit of being sent updated artwork from the NBA, so they’re able to account for branding changes that aren’t yet officially announced. To that end, apart from missing transactions that occur after the cut-off date, and the absence of rookies and other players who haven’t signed in time, most games don’t have too many outdated details. These days, official updates are also far more comprehensive.

With that being said, sometimes games end up shipping with a variety of outdated details. Perhaps a change was announced too late for it to be included, and in the case of older games especially, it may not be something that can be patched. Oversights happen, and inaccuracies can be caused by strange circumstances. I’ve come up with another five examples, which I’m sharing with you all today. Please note that once again, I’m avoiding the obvious examples related to cut-off dates or the old practice of releasing games with a previous season’s roster, and only noting things that were or became outdated details when a game was new and current. Let’s begin with…

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Wayback Wednesday: Bug Hunting in NBA Live 96 PC

Wayback Wednesday: Bug Hunting in NBA Live 96 PC

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m going bug hunting in NBA Live 96 PC.

It’s strange how certain memories will randomly pop into your head. Last year, I whipped up a video illustrating a tall tale that I heard about Michael Jordan many years ago. It’s something I hadn’t thought about in years, but something jogged my memory, and I felt like reflecting on that ridiculous story. The same thing happens with basketball video games. I’ll randomly remember a feature or something that I once experienced, and it strikes me as a good idea for a Wayback Wednesday feature. It’s as good of an excuse as any to revisit some old favourites, too.

Of course, our memories aren’t always reliable. I’ve discussed the phenomenon of having false memories of basketball video games in The Friday Five, and indeed, I had enough examples for second column. It pays to double-check, and there are Wayback Wednesday features I’ve had to amend (and in one case, re-write completely) when I haven’t done my due diligence. With that in mind, on this occasion I’m making the research itself into the feature! There’s an error that I vaguely recalled encountering in the PC version of NBA Live 96, so this week, I’m going bug hunting. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #325: Playground People, The Game & Its Sequel

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Episode #325 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

NBA Playgrounds and its sequel NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 have been quite successful, but thus far, the series hasn’t had the same staying power as NBA Jam or NBA Street. We take a deep-dive into the Playground games, discussing the parts that we like, and the parts that we believe could be better. Along the way, we compare and contrast Playgrounds with Jam and Street, discuss missed opportunities for the series, and consider its future. We also talk about NBA Starting Five 2005 – an overlooked Japanese exclusive from the mid 2000s with features that were ahead of their time – and the latest title update for Basketball Classics. A retro pick-up teased in last week’s show is also revealed.

What’s your take on this week’s topics? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

The Friday Five: 5 Expensive Basketball Games to Collect

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five lists five of the most expensive basketball games that collectors can buy.

For the serious collector, retro video games can be an expensive hobby. There are some rare titles that don’t come cheap, and among them, you’ll find a few basketball games. Because licensing and likeness rights make remakes and re-releases highly unlikely when it comes to hoops games, anyone who wants to own a legal copy of these rarities will have to search high and low, and pay a hefty price. One exception is Street Hoop for Neo Geo. While original copies can still demand a large sum, it has since been re-released digitally on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Such is the benefit of a game that doesn’t feature any licensed players. Of course, the most widely released NBA games usually aren’t expensive to track down and acquire, unless they’re in mint condition. Annual sports games aren’t big money-makers on the second hand market, so with the exception of PC releases of NBA 2K being removed from Steam, older basketball games are readily available (and affordable). As I said though, there are a few rare hoops titles that are difficult to find, and quite expensive to obtain when you do locate a copy. I fancy myself a collector of basketball video games, but I’d need to be much wealthier to consider picking up these expensive titles.

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The Friday Five: 5 Games With Untapped Modding Potential

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five games that have untapped modding potential.

At the NLSC, our modding community prides itself in doing all that it can to change and enhance the experience provided by basketball video games. We started doing it from the beginning of the NBA Live series with NBA Live 95 PC, and brought the hobby to NBA 2K when it came to the platform. As long as we’ve had the necessary tools, knowledge, and perseverance, we’ve created all kinds of projects from current rosters to retro season and NCAA total conversion mods. We’ve updated player and team art, changed menus and presentation elements, and even made new soundtracks.

Name an NBA Live or NBA 2K game that’s come out on PC, and you’ll be able to recall a memorable mod. However, for all our hard work and creativity, there are a few games that stand out as having untapped modding potential. Whether we couldn’t figure something out or the necessary tools were developed too late in a game’s life cycle, there are some titles where we could’ve perhaps done more. On top of that, because of our focus on NBA Live and NBA 2K, there are a couple of other games that we didn’t pay attention to, leaving them with untapped modding potential of their own. Here are five games that we could’ve done more with (and perhaps still could).

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Wayback Wednesday: Players I Remember Because of Video Games (Part 4)

Wayback Wednesday: Players I Remember Because of Video Games (Part 4)

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at another selection of players that I remember primarily because of video games.

It’s time for Part 4 in an ongoing series for Wayback Wednesday, in which I take a look back at players that I remember thanks to basketball gaming. I’ve joked about it a few times before in articles and on the NLSC Podcast, but I can’t remember a single thing about quadratic equations or pretty much anything else I learned in high school maths. However, I can still recall the “dunk from anywhere” code for NBA Jam Tournament Edition on SNES, the location of bonus barrels and DK coins in Donkey Kong Country 2 and 3, and a ton of quotes from classic episodes of The Simpsons.

Oh, and a bunch of lesser known NBA players from the 90s and 2000s. I may have also seen them play in real games, and basketball cards have also played a role in helping certain players to stand out in my mind, but playing video games (and in particular, creating roster updates for them) is what truly embedded them into my memory. As I said, I’ve got another list of ten players to share today, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Dumbing Down of MyTEAM

Monday Tip-Off: The Dumbing Down of MyTEAM

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on the dumbing down of MyTEAM in recent NBA 2K games, and how it’s affecting the mode.

I’ll occasionally see a comment on Twitter or Reddit to the effect of “Who even plays MyTEAM?” It’s your standard “I don’t like it, therefore it sucks and no one else likes it either” rationale that’s all too common among toxic gamers, but it comes off as especially ridiculous when you’re talking about a mode like MyTEAM. After all, its popularity rivals MyCAREER and its connected modes, and thanks to the content that comes through all season long, it makes Take-Two a lot of money. It is possible to play without spending any money, of course, but many who do spend, spend big.

I like the idea of modes like MyTEAM and Ultimate Team. I never thought they’d be for me, but I’ve had fun with them in NBA 2K and NBA Live over the course of this generation. I’ve generally avoided spending money and in NBA 2K19 and NBA 2K20 in particular, I’ve still managed to pick up some really good cards. However, there are problems with MyTEAM, and it’s safe to say that it’s affecting the quality and appeal of the mode. On the whole, it feels like 2K has been dumbing the mode down with the special cards they introduce every year, along with a lack of attention to detail. The mode hasn’t been completely ruined, but it could be in much better shape than it is.

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